on the Necessity of Radical Changes in the Judicial System of Armenia
July 5, 2019
The Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF ANP) expresses its deep concern with regard to the crisis over the RA Constitutional Court (CC). Without commenting on the well-known contradictions in the statements of the newly elected judge Vahe Grigoryan and members of the Court, we state the following.
For many years, the Armenian judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, has not enjoyed public trust, has failed to meet the standards of independent, impartial and authoritative judicial power free from political and party influence, having served for years as a key instrument for state capture in the hands of the executive and the ruling political force. This role of the Constitutional Court has been manifested especially in the disputes related to national elections and referendums, when this high Court was unable to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
The constitutional amendments adopted by the December 2015 referendum, along with all the traditional issues related to legitimacy, were fairly perceived by the public as an attempt to perpetuate the vicious system formed by the ruling elite. One of the main reasons for today’s crisis was the fact that the Republican majority, violating the principles and regulations guaranteeing the autonomy and freedom from political influence for the Constitutional Court as envisaged by the 2015 Constitution, appointed their party member Hrayr Tovmasyan as a CC member on March 2, 2018 and CC President on March 23, 2018, thus distorting the content of the provisions on the formation of the Constitutional Court enshrined in Chapter 7 of the Constitution.
As a result of the political developments of 2018, Armenia entered a crucial phase with the aim of transition from authoritarian to democratic system. In the first two stages of this transitional period, first the executive and then the legislature were formed under the pressure and through the vote of the people. Naturally, the next stage envisages legitimization of the judiciary, freeing the third power from corruption and elimination of the status of servant of the political and economic interests of the former regime.
The crisis can not be resolved by any other procedure than a consensus among the relevant bodies responsible for the execution of the Constitution.
The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform hereby calls on:
- the RA National Assembly, RA President, RA Government, RA General Assembly of Judges, the judges and members of the RA Constitutional Court to immediately initiate a consultation process and to undertake vigorous and substantial steps with a view to urgently resolve the constitutional crisis;
- the members of the Constitutional Court to approach the issue based not on narrow personal or group interests, but through recognizing the necessity to restore the legitimacy and reputation of the Constitutional Court and abide by the law, attaching importance to public sentiments, thus creating an opportunity for the implementation of democratic reforms occurring in Armenia;
- we also urge them to exclude the adoption of decisions on behalf of the Constitutional Court until the termination of the above-mentioned consultation process to prevent their legality from becoming disputable and not to deepen the crisis;
- all the international structures to take into consideration the uniqueness of the problem in terms of Armenia’s sovereignty and the imperative of its settlement in a constructive way;
- the RA authorities, political forces, civil society organizations, expert community immediately upon overcoming the crisis to initiate broad consultations on launching a process of constitutional reform fundamental for the exclusion of such critical situations in the future and the democratization and strengthening of state institutions.
EU Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society in Armenia 2018-2020
This document presents an updated EU Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society in Armenia for the period 2018-2020. It contains brief analysis of the civil society arena and its operating environment, and identifies the EU’s priorities and actions for engaging with the civil society in the years to come.
The Roadmap has been drafted and adopted by the EU Delegation and EU Member State Embassies in Armenia following the wide consultations with the civil society organisations between June and December 2018.
The English and Armenian versions of the Roadmap can be found below:
Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society 2018-2020 (Armenian; courtesy translation)
The previous Roadmap covering 2014-2017 is available here.
The following priorities have been identified as an outcome of the consultations and reflect the main lines of engagement between the EU and its Member States, on the one side, and the civil society in Armenia, on the other side:
Priority 1. To support efforts to enhance the operational space for CSOs representing marginalised and vulnerable groups and/or working on the most sensitive and at risk human rights.
Priority 2. Support Armenian civil society in systematic monitoring and engagement in policy dialogue on the legal framework for an enabling environment.
Priority 3. Support civil society efforts to act as efficient government watchdogs and provide constructive contribution to governance reforms.
Priority 4. Support civil society monitoring of the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and establishment of a bilateral EU-Armenia CSO platform.
Priority 5. Provide targeted capacity building for civil society to effectively engage with citizens and become more sustainable.
Priority 6. Support civil society and CSO coalitions promoting gender equality, youth participation and rights of most vulnerable groups.
Priority 7. Support increased cooperation and mutual learning between CSOs, trade unions and businesses, including financial education for CSOs and services for the public-private sector.
Priority 8. Support civil society engagement in the area of environment, energy efficiency and climate change.
The Roadmap is a living document that can be revised based on the changes in the needs, political-legal environment, and civil society landscape. The list of above priorities and actions will guide future engagement but should not be seen as a complete and static list.
Source: EU Delegation to Armenia web-site